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1974? Jazz bass restoration project

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sonicblue62, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Hey all,
    I got a pretty decent deal on this bass, and although it needs some work, I am excited to get it up and running. Cosmetically rough, but plays and sounds GREAT. My assessment of it being a '74 is based on the serial number; there is no neck date stamp, and I don't know enough about old fenders to determine if the other stamps on the neck heel mean anything.


    I appreciate any comments or thoughts you guys have on the bass, or any advice on my restoration plans, which include the following:

    1. refinish (very lightly relic) in either olympic white, fiesta red, or sonic blue. I already have a 62 P in SB and a Custom Shop 64 Jazz in FR, so I'm kind of leaning toward a twin for the P or just going w/ OW so I have one of each. I'm thinking of using this guy for the refin:

    You probably notice the heavy scratches on the front. I plan to lightly sand the whole thing before sending off for the refin, but I wonder if I should try to use a bit of wood-filler before sanding?

    2. Replace tuners. 1 is not original and some of them seem to not work very smoothly. Maybe a little sewing machine oil would fix them?

    3. One of the block inlays has come out. a bit of superglue maybe?

    4. Replace nut.

    I think everything else is original. Neck PU sounds fatter than other JB's I've played, and bridge PU sounds more nasal than my Custom Shop Jazz. I'll replace the offending middle knob, and install a thumbrest / tug bar and a bridge cover (I love the look of the PU covers, but find them a bit obtrusive since I like to play over the neck PU).

    I haven't had any previous experience with 70's Fenders, and I know that opinions on quality and playability are generally pretty divided, but I think this is going to be a sweet, vibey, mostly- vintage tone machine when I am done.
  2. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    I like it i would repair clean, string, set up and play for a while as is .Enjoy her shes been played Cool thx for sharing.
  3. A couple other things: I already took a fine scotch-brite pad to the back of the neck (which I do to all my basses) and it already looks and feels 100X better than when I got it.
    the electronics are also pretty dirty (a lot of grime on the pickups, crackling input jack, etc.). Are q-tips and rubbing alcohol a good way to attack this?
  4. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    sure...i would wait and see what most TB,s recommend doing.It will be interesting.What did you pay ?
  5. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    The best way to clean electronics is with a spray can of "contact cleaner". You can buy it on amazon, GC, etc.

  6. I'm with stonewall on this one. Cleanup and minor repairs and it will be perfect. Then again I don't own a bass that has anything but a natural finish so I'm biased.

    Whatever you do congrats, nice bass.
  7. Ended up getting it for $1200. It was a bit of a risk as I bought without playing first from an out-of-town seller, but now that I've played it my fears have been put to rest. I've wanted a vintage Jazz to go with my vintage P for years, and am stoked that one finally came up that I could afford. :bassist:
  8. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    Nice one.I was trying to buy a 73/74 P Bass off my buddy he wouldnt sell it to me:(.It was a repaint and now active with EMG,s.I without a doubt would have gladly paid him $1000 to $1200 for it and then hunted up some original 70,s P Bass pups....Enjoy
  9. So I cleaned all the electronics, put a little sewing machine oil on the tuners and put it back together with an old set of Snarling Dogs that I had never used. Holy Moley, what a bass! Tone-wise, it is everything I had hoped for in a vintage Jazz. I'll post eventual pics after I get her refinished.
  10. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    A couple of tips based on personal experience. If cleaning the pots make sure you use a contact cleaner that has a built in lube for the wiper. I destroyed the pots on a 69 bass by using a "straight" contact cleaner rather than one designed to clean and lube moving electrical contacts.
    Don't know whether this would happen to you, but I had a pro refin done on a 71 Jazz - lovely job but for some reason the tone was never the same after that and I ended up selling it.
    Food for thought.
  11. Thanks for the tips; I wouldn't think a refin would affect the tone, but I guess stranger things have happened. Was it a nitro finish?
  12. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    Seriously, my personal feeling is "if it's not broke, don't fix it". I think it looks pretty good as it is. Once you get the electronics and tuners done, I'd just leave it for a bit and make sure you want to do that refin. Maybe it looks worse in person than the pics convey.

    Your bass, your money though.
  13. Jazzish

    Jazzish Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2006
    I agree with Tim1...a friend refinished his guitar and it didn't sound the same:( Maybe you could pick up a Warmoth body and keep the original as is?
  14. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    i dont agree. ive done stripped, poly, nitro on vintage fenders and the tone didnt change
  15. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Refin was a nitro, done by a pro. I know what narud is saying, but I can only report on what my ears heard (and a bass playing mate agreed). Had a refin by the same guy on another bass and nothing changed. If it was me with a 74 I just wouldn't take the risk. I didn't expect to hear a change, but there definitely was, and I didn't like it. It was a while ago now but from memory the sound seemed more compressed and the bass felt less lively. I can only assume that the finish affected the way the wood responded in some way.
  16. REMBO


    Jul 26, 2011
    that bass is older than 1974!~!
    the truss rod is still on the bottom on your bass!

    the body has holes that held the thumb rest below the strings!

    you need to post a picture with the bridge off so we can see what's underneath!!
  17. Get an opinion from johnk. He'll know what it is and what to do.
  18. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    I like it as is. I would clean, repair, restring and play.
  19. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Don't be too hasty to judge a refin when it's fresh. I too have had the experience of feeling that a body's resonance was dampened by a nitro paint job, but the original resonance returned as the finish hardened over the next year or so.
  20. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef Formerly "thebrian" Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Nice score! You did good on it, the neck and a few of the parts is worth the $1200 you paid! That bass is likely a '73. Low 400K ser #, and tugbar below the strings (like REMBO mentioned). If you want to stay period correct, this bass had a poly finish originally in that era, and fiesta and and sonic were '60s colors, not '70s. So oly white would be the only "correct" color from your top choices.

    I may be able to help you out with some of the original parts you're looking for. PM me if you'd like.